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MSU Poll: Fewer Montanans Say They'll Get A COVID-19 Vaccine Compared To Spring

Mask and gloves.

Results released Friday from Montana State University’s pre-election poll show Montanans across all party affiliations are feeling more uncertain about the safety of a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

In addition to political preferences for the upcoming general election, the Treasure State 2020 Pre-election Poll asked 1,787 Montanans during the last half of September about their behaviors and experiences related to the pandemic, including their views on a potential vaccine.

Forty-one percent of the responders said yes, they would get a COVID-19 vaccine. That’s a 16 percent drop from a similar poll in April.

Eric Raile is an associate professor of political science at MSU and the director of the Human Ecology Learning and Problem Solving Lab that analyzed data from the two surveys.

“A lot of these answers differ a great deal based on people’s partisanship, and I think that’s pretty telling. It fits with broader findings of polarization nationally and within Montana," Raile said.

Democratic responders who said they would get a vaccine dropped from 75 percent in April to 49 percent this fall, with more shifting to say they didn’t know.

“It’s a big change and there have been prominent Democratic politicians and we have governors of big Democratic states who have said they’re leery of a vaccine, they don’t necessarily trust the federal government, they feel like maybe it’s being rushed. And it seems like that message is penetrating.”

For Republican responders, it was a 51 to 32 percent drop. But unlike Democrats, more shifted to say they would not get a vaccine.

Overall, younger age groups and women were more likely to say they would not get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“On the Republican side you’ve got different messaging and it starts with the White House, and I think there’s also more exposure," Raile said.

The two surveys also asked people about their pandemic concerns.

“It was striking to me that we saw very little change in terms of levels of disruption to people’s lives, how much they worried about the coronavirus pandemic, how stressed they were; those numbers stayed almost exactly the same. That applies to the different breakdowns across partisanships, age and gender and so on.”

The survey in September found the majority of Democrats and Independents said controlling the spread of the coronavirus even if it hurts the economy is more important, whereas the majority of Republicans said protecting the economy even if it hurts efforts to control the coronavirus is more important.

Sixty-four percent of Democrat responders said they always wear face coverings outside their homes, compared to 21 percent of Republican responders.